The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
“I’m very lucky. The veterans on our club are good guys, great guys and they have no issues with anything that’s happened. You know, they don’t sit in the clubhouse and second guess why they’re not playing or where they are hitting in the lineup. They do the best they can.” — Mets manager Terry Collins
And the teacher said
Flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one
“Q. Did you ever consider bringing Aroldis for a second inning?
No, because potentially we have three more chances to play. Big Broxton was almost out of that inning. It’s easy to look back now and say, did you think about putting him out there? But he wouldn’t have been any good to us tomorrow, either. That’s how we have used him all year since he’s gotten to the closing role. We haven’t used him more than one inning.” — Dusty Baker after NLDS Game 3
The teacher put him in a corner
She said, It’s for your own good
And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
And responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher …
“I don’t like having guys in the middle. That’s a bad situation when you’re in the middle of anything. An unknown. Then everybody else is in an unknown situation.” —Dusty Baker
And this is what he said …
Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen
“I ask Dusty Baker why Chapman, or any closer, doesn’t pitch in the eighth inning, doesn’t pitch when the Reds are behind, doesn’t pitch when they’re way ahead, doesn’t pitch unless the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars. He says, ‘It’s just the way things are.’’’ —Paul Daugherty
Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
“You know, we talked today about hey, what we did today, should we try it again tomorrow? If we don’t, if you’re gonna, ya know, tomorrow’s a situation where I’m going to play Bax [Baxter] tomorrow in RF. He hits Leake. Are you gonna hit him in Marlon Byrd’s spot? Well, he’s really more of a second hitter than he is a fifth hitter. So, once again, you’re coming in somebody else has to hit fifth. But, that’s just the nature of what we—what the makeup of the team is and where these guys fit the best. Each and every day we put a lot of thought into where they should go and some days it works and some days it doesn’t.” — Terry Collins
The teacher there was smilin’
She said…Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every one
We so love The Box. It’s such a comfortable place for things. People. Situations. Ideas. Let’s not forget The Label. Got to label The Box so we know what to do with whatever is inside. The Box gives us guidance. The Box (and what’s inside) gives us easy answers. But more than anything, The Box grants us absolution from responsibility by our peers.
You venture outside The Box at your own risk.
Correspondingly, it should be no surprise that nowhere is The Box more beloved than sports, where tribal behavior is not just revered, it’s required. And few sports are more tribal in nature than Baseball. Only in Baseball does the manager dress as if he might take the field at any moment and partake in some big league bacchanalia. A baseball manager is not just the field general, he’s an extension of the players, the titular head of the family. So, if you’re the manager, you just stay inside The Box, knowing you will never be criticized by members of your tribe. Oh, those outside the circle may howl, but as we all know and were so pointedly reminded after yesterday’s game, outsiders do not matter. Stay true to yourself and the tribal culture. Honor the family.
This explains much about why managers think the way they do. It’s not that they don’t understand high leverage situations. It’s not that they skipped 7th grade math. They merely have a different agenda.
For Dusty Baker, the only true high leverage situation is the one that occurs when you let down tribe by not following The Book. And where do we find The Book?
In The Box, of course.
Once you understand that high leverage situations occur only with the lead, you begin to understand the very predictable madness of today’s manager. Managers don’t lose games when they are behind or when the game is tied. High leverage situation, you say? Silly boy. It’s the players’ responsibility to successfully negotiate those situations. As the cliché goes “Players win games.” How could we forget that? But, The Book says it’s verboten in to surrender the lead without your best gun loaded and ready. So, you wait for that lead. All game, if you have to. Until tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, if necessary, like some poor Shakespearean player, creeping his petty pace from day to day, game to game. All our yesterdays lighting fools the way to dusty death.
Label it, The Manager’s Decision. Accept it. Move on. And so it goes.
As the man himself will tell you, “It’s just the way things are.”